I've never been a great housekeeper - I keep my home clean (i.e. I try to keep up with the dirt, spills and crumbs), but I don't do so well when it comes to clutter. And clutter is what seems to happen once you have children. It starts slowly - family will buy your child gifts, because hey, it's fun to buy for children. Before you know it your child is being invited to birthday parties and handed bags full of small plastic things that you step on when it's 11 p.m. at night and you're trying to find your way to the bedroom. The mountain of toys begins to pile up and soon you're feeling overwhelmed.
Chances are, your child is feeling overwhelmed too. Kids enjoy structure and order as any adult would, and they'll often play with toys that are in view, as opposed to the ones in the overflowing bins (the bins that were actually meant to organize your stuff in the first place).
Recently I'd had enough, and filled several big boxes full of toys that I knew my girls didn't play with. I took time to observe them in their play, and noted what they actually used. The rest were donated to Value Village. The lists below are obviously individual and will depend on your child, so leave a comment and tell me what your family can't do without!
TOYS THAT WILL BE USED EVERY DAY
- Books: I realize these aren't exactly "toys" but they do take up a lot of space in playrooms and bedrooms. Choose books for the quality of their writing and graphics, and regularly purge the ones your child doesn't read.
- Crafts: playdough, markers, paper etc. We've got several craft drawers full of stuff my girls can access whenever they want. Paints are kept up higher so that I have control over when these are brought out
TOYS THAT WILL BE USED REGULARLY
- Play kitchen with fake food
- Cash register
- Child's camera
- Dress-up clothes
- Blocks, Lego, and other stacking toys
- Vehicles: cars, trucks, trains, tractors etc.
- Cards and games (only if parents make a point of playing!)
- Outdoor or indoor sports/active equipment
TOYS THAT WILL RARELY BE USED
I find these are the toys that come out whenever we have guests over. Other children are good at looking through bins and finding things your child hasn't played with in a long time. It's debatable whether you keep these ones around the house!
- Anything with batteries
- Anything that makes noise
- Ride-on toys (bicycles not included)
- Children's tents
- Year's "hottest" toy that you bought on a whim
- Plastic crap - this includes all random plastic figurines, jewelry, Barbie accessories
What would you add to these lists?